One hundred public school districts in Ohio are the focus of an investigation of falsified reports on student enrollment and attendance, it was reported during the weekend. That is approximately one-sixth of the districts in the state - meaning there is a possibility some East Ohio school systems are involved.
That is a large assumption, of course, based solely on percentages. It may be that no district in Belmont, Jefferson, Harrison or Monroe counties is among the 100 being targeted by state investigators. We hope not.
Investigations by both the state Department of Education and state Auditor Dave Yost's office began earlier this year after revelations a few school systems, including the one serving Columbus, had submitted falsified enrollment and attendance data to the state.
Several reasons exist for unscrupulous school administrators to submit false data. It can make their school systems appear to be performing better than actually is the case - and that can amount to job security for educators.
We already have suggested that local school officials should be re-examining reports submitted to the state, including those on enrollment and attendance. If there is reason to believe any of the reports for the past few years are inaccurate - for any reason - that information should be revealed to the public.
In the meantime, state investigators should be as thorough as possible in checking the 100 districts.
Yost has said he believes the vast majority of districts submit accurate reports. In some cases, those that have not done so may have made mistakes, not intentionally falsifying data, he added.
That certainly is good news. But as we have stated previously, if cheaters are found, they should be penalized severely. At the very least they should lose their jobs and be disqualified from ever working in Ohio public schools again. If their crimes are particularly egregious, they should be prosecuted.